Pickle Tree


The following is the informant’s account of a German holiday tradition performed every winter by the informant’s family.

Main Piece

Thanksgiving, we get our trees. That’s, like, a tradition. For some reason we, ‘cause we live by a bunch of evergreen farms so we just like go out and chop one down on Thanksgiving and then, within the next week, my mom will decorate the tree, because none of us really want to, and there’s, like, this one ornament that’s shaped like a pickle that a lot of families have and I don’t know if its actually a German tradition, but my family’s pretty German so I think it is a German tradition. Basically, the pickle gets hidden like, in the tree, and then you have to like… usually the tradition is, like, Christmas morning you wake up and like, you go get the presents, and then the first person to find the pickle like wins, and in my family no one ever wins anything but you just like… you get the pride.

But then, in my family, it’s kind of like… the kids, like my younger cousins, really like it, so pretty much as soon as the tree’s decorated in, like, late November they just start playing it like whenever they want and they’ll just like, yeah. So that’s about it, you just find the pickle.


I had never encountered or heard of this tradition, but found that the hidden pickle is fairly common among Christians/Catholics of German and Dutch ancestry. Another informant of mine from Pennsylvania recognized this tradition immediately. What was also notable to me about hiding the pickle in the Christmas tree is that it bears some resemblance to the Jewish Passover tradition of hiding the afikoman, a piece of matzo bread wrapped in a special cloth, for the children to find.